Wednesday, April 3, 2013


The news out of Pyongyang is bad. The sable rattling was to be expected.  The last nuclear quantitative policy and the upstart of the mothballed Yongbyon reactor are ominous. The blocking of South Korean workers in Kaesong, if confirmed, might as well be a fatal blow.
The KIM dynasty appears to be a strange lot, from grandfather to the inexperienced but boisterous young new leader.  A Chinese official told me once that the DPRK was a robot model, alien to rational argument, brainwashed to the core.  He went so far  as to describe North Korea as a giant asylum, impervious to pressure.
Rare contacts with President Carter, Governor Richardson, President Clinton, Secretary Albright aborted. The six-party talks in Beijing dragged on without result.  Only Ambassador James Kelly came close to some form of "less misunderstanding".

The overall situation is scary because of the bluff and posture of the leader.  He can afford his histrionic behavior because he has no counterparts inside or outside. Even the Chinese are torn between selfishness (not letting North Koreans destabilize the border) and dismay (wanting a denuclearized Korean Peninsula). They look sometimes as if they would prefer one bomb to thousands of refugees from North Korea fleeing into China.  In doing so they play with fire, as is the case in Syria and Iran.

The mistake of the West is a theatrical one.  By leaving Kim Jong -un alone with his soliloquy and his applauding audiences we offer him a witness-stand without a jury. One should play upon his Chaplinesque vanity and get him trapped in a wider audience/forum/conference.  He might imagine that he is getting a seat among equals, while he is actually sitting in front of a judge.  Loosing face is loosing a battle.  Bilaterals are not going to work. 

Time is running short.  I do not believe he wants war but I am sure that war (his military machine) might manipulate him. The slightest miscalculation might lead to terrible unforeseeable consequences. Better give him a bogus show (which he wants) than leave him alone, frustrated with lethal toys in his crib.

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